JAC4 – Just Another Connect 4 wins Rep. Alexander Mooney’s 2021 Congressional App Challenge in West Virginia’s Second District

Rep. Alexander Mooney has named Zackery Mowrer of George Washington High School, Mariam Kisto of George Washington High School, Caleb Newell of Landmark Christian Academy, and Chase Steorts of Hurricane High School as the winners of the 2021 Congressional App Challenge in West Virginia’s Second District.

When asked what inspired the creation of JAC4 – Just Another Connect 4, the students said, “We decided to create this app for two major reasons. One, our previous work had been tailored more to web development compared to other software types, and as an exploration into writing software for other platforms, we sought to try our hand in developing a mobile app. This is also what drew us to React Native, since using technologies such as JavaScript that we generally had a large degree of familiarity with already, we had reasoned, would make the transition more bearable.

As for why we chose Connect Four specifically, we had sought to employ some variety in our projects, and as COVID has impacted everybody’s mental health (as I, Zack, can attest, having spent over an entire year from March 2020 to 2021 in remote learning), we decided to create a simple game for an app to help people relax, and this goal also led us to create soothing music to add to the app. After debating numerous game ideas, from platformers to more simplistic games, we settled on Connect Four because we felt it would be far more challenging than something such as Tic-Tac-Toe but would still be rather straightforward to implement (though in reality it was more challenging than we had anticipated).”

The 2021 Congressional App Challenge yielded 2,101 fully functioning apps. After eighteen months of disruptions to educational cadences for students everywhere, the Congressional App Challenge came roaring back with 7,174 students registering for this year’s competition. All told, 340 Members of Congress hosted Congressional App Challenges in their districts across 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Washington, D.C.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, theCoderSchool, Facebook, Replit, Accenture, and others.

The 2022 Congressional App Challenge will launch in June of 2022, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.